The Reality of the Christian Walk – by Desmond Ford

Jun 15, 2015 1124

If, when you become a Christian, and reach out by faith and believe, if you think that at that moment that justification is the same as sanctification, if you think that God declaring you perfect in a moment means that simultaneously He makes you perfect in a moment, then you’ve got another thing coming! And it will be a long, harrowing, arduous, tear-filled “think”.

Because the work of sanctification, being made righteous, is the work of a lifetime. The Christian does feel the promptings of sin. His settled decision is to follow Jesus Christ. His direction is heavenward, but the Christian does feel the promptings of sin. He’ll have a trillion fights with appetite, passion, with temper, with worry, with anxieties, with envy, oh yes! He has died to sin but sin has not died.

Here is the truth about Romans 7: “Wretched man that I am” says Paul, not “Wretched man that I used to be”. It’s in the first person, in the present tense. And when Paul says, “It’s no longer I that do it” he’s making it clear that he’s now the converted Paul.

What am I saying? I am saying that there is despair, there is discouragement, there is disillusionment, there is defeat, for everyone that doesn’t know the truth about sanctification. For everyone that doesn’t distinguish between sanctification and justification, there will come overwhelming failure.

The truth is that every newborn person is two people. He has the old nature too, that’s not lost until glorification. We battle against the old habits until we get a new body and mind. That’s the truth of Holy Writ.

Paul, of course, in these verses does not mean that he’s committing adultery and lying and thieving, oh no! He just means that his intentions are never matched by his performance. He sees the depths of the law of God and wants to love God with all he’s got, and his neighbour as himself, but he’s aware that his best efforts fall short. The same Paul says later on, “I know nothing against myself”. He’s what we would call a victorious Christian, but he was also aware he had a sinful nature fighting him every moment.

The next verse that stands out is in the first verse of chapter 8, “But there’s now no condemnation to those that are in Christ Jesus.” He must distinguish between justification and sanctification because even when the Christian does make a mistake – and there’s no Christian that doesn’t make them – even when a Christian fails – and there’s no Christian that doesn’t fail – there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.

If you have been taught to believe that once you’re converted, now there are no more mistakes and failures, you have been very, very wrongly instructed indeed. Read the story of Peter in Galatians 2, the post-Pentecostal Peter. Read James 3 and verse 2, ”In many things we all offend”. Read Luke 17, verse 10, “When you’ve done all these things0 that you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants’. “And when ye pray, don’t only pray for daily bread, but pray, ‘And forgive us our trespasses'”.

Oh, yes, the Christian walk is a continually interrupted falling. That’s what a walk is!

– Des Ford. Rom 8:27–32. Adapted from “Perfect in a Moment”

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